United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. TEETER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Paul Oliver and Kurt Weigel-former officers with the Lenexa
Police Department-bring this action against their former
employer and former colleagues, asserting violation of their
due process rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and
several state law tort claims. Doc. 32. Defendants move to
dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Docs. 44, 46. For the reasons
set forth herein, the Court finds that Plaintiffs fail to
state a § 1983 claim. And, given its dismissal of
Plaintiffs' federal claim, the Court declines to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' state law
claims and therefore dismisses those claims without
Paul Oliver and Kurt Weigel are former police officers of the
Lenexa Police Department (“Lenexa PD”). Doc. 32
¶¶ 1-2. Oliver resigned from employment with the
Lenexa PD in April 2017 and accepted a position with his
current employer, the Olathe Police Department (“Olathe
PD”). Id. at ¶¶ 22-23. In August
2017, Weigel likewise resigned from the Lenexa PD; Weigel now
works for the Johnson County Sheriff s Department.
Id. at ¶¶ 24-25. During Plaintiffs'
tenure with the Lenexa PD, Defendant Thomas Hongslo served as
Chief of Police for the Lenexa PD-a position he still holds
today. Id. at ¶ 4. Defendants Greg Bogart and
Diana Mendoza were Lenexa PD officers holding the rank of
Captain during Plaintiffs' tenure. Id. at
¶¶ 5-6. Mendoza has since left the department.
Id. at ¶ 6.
lawsuit ultimately stems from an anonymous letter allegedly
written by Mendoza to Plaintiffs' new employers at the
Olathe PD and Johnson County Sheriffs Department.
Plaintiffs' allegations regarding the events surrounding
the transmission of that letter are as follows. Plaintiffs
allege that, on September 8, 2017, Mendoza went to the Lenexa
Post Office to purchase stamps. Id. at ¶ 59.
Mendoza purchased the stamps with a debit card issued by an
organization called “Guns & Hoses.”
Id. at ¶ 62. Pictures from the kiosk where the
stamps were purchased show Mendoza purchasing the stamps; she
was not in uniform. Id. at ¶¶ 64-65; Doc.
purchasing the stamps, Plaintiffs allege Mendoza proceeded to
draft the letter to the Olathe PD and Johnson County
Sheriff's Department from her work computer, print copies
of the letter using the Lenexa PD's equipment, place the
letter into envelopes obtained from the Lenexa PD's
supplies, address the envelopes, and place them in the mail.
Doc. 32 ¶¶ 67-68, 70-71, 74-76. The letters were
addressed to the Chief of Police for the Olathe PD and
various Johnson County officials (including the Johnson
County Commissioner, the Johnson County Manager, and the
Johnson County Sheriff). Id. at ¶ 26; Doc.
letter, which was written anonymously, Mendoza addressed the
hiring practices of local law enforcement agencies. Doc.
32-2. Specifically, she professed that local departments were
“hiring experienced officers from other departments at
a higher rate.” Id. She continued that
“this is actually a good strategy. That is unless you
start hiring the bottom of the barrel of other departments.
This happens when the single goal is to fill police cars
instead of caring about the character of the officer.”
Id. Mendoza then referenced a Facebook
exchange-which she attached to the letters-between Oliver,
Weigel, and another former Lenexa PD officer, Ted
Gardner. Id; Doc. 45-1; Doc. 47-1. Mendoza
As you can see from this Facebook conversation the new deputy
Kurt Weigal [sic], a former Lenexa PD officer, talks about
losing their minds on citizens they should be serving. The
Crass Cop, who is Paul Oliver, was a former Lenexa Police
officer and now works for the Olathe Police Department. Had
Olathe even cared about a back ground [sic] investigation and
not just filling their cars, they would have found that he
had received significant discipline after kicking a
civilian's car during a traffic stop. It is shameful that
just as recently as this month they talk about mistreating a
Hispanic male and actually STILL find it funny today.
Id. Mendoza concluded that “[t]he County and
surrounding agencies need to stop the practice of shifting
bad officers and simply hiring them by throwing more money at
learning of the letters, Weigel contacted Lenexa PD Major
Dave Brown to report the issue. Doc. 32 ¶ 48. Weigel
suspected that Mendoza had authored the letters. Id.
at ¶ 44. Hongslo accordingly met with Mendoza to discuss
the letters and, during this meeting, Mendoza denied any
involvement. Id. at ¶ 49. Mendoza proceeded to
send an email to Weigel repeating her denial. Doc. 32-4. The
email read in pertinent part:
Yesterday [Hongslo] showed me a picture of a letter and
Facebook comments that were apparently sent to the Olathe
Chief and also to the [Johnson County] Sheriff. My
understanding from [Hongslo] is that you feel that I sent
this letter to both. First and foremost, I want to tell you
that I DID NOT send this letter to either the [Olathe] Chief
or the [Johnson County] Sheriff.
Id. At the bottom of the email were the words
“Sent from my iPad” repeated on three separate
lines. Id. Plaintiffs allege in the amended
complaint that the presence of these words means Mendoza sent
drafts of her email to someone else-either Hongslo,
Mendoza's husband, or members of “Command
Staff”-to review and approve before sending to Weigel.
Doc. 32 ¶¶ 92-94.
receipt of the email, Weigel reached out to Major Brown to
report that Mendoza was contacting him. Id. at
¶ 95. Pictures taken by a camera at the kiosk where the
stamps were purchased were subsequently acquired showing that
Mendoza purchased the stamps used to mail the letters to the
Olathe PD and the Johnson County Sheriff s Department.
Id. at ¶¶ 63-65; Doc. 32- 3. Mendoza also
subsequently sent a Facebook message regarding the incident
wherein she referred to the letter as “[m]y
letter.” Doc. 32 ¶ 101; Doc. 32-5. Mendoza
resigned from the Lenexa PD on September 23, 2017. Doc. 32
filed notices of claim with Defendant City of Lenexa
(“City”) on December 21, 2017, related to the
actions alleged in this lawsuit. Id. at ¶ 12;
Doc. 32-1. After Plaintiffs received notice that their claims
were denied by the City, Plaintiffs filed this action on July
18, 2018, asserting claims for (1) violation of their
Fourteenth Amendment due process rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, (2) invasion of privacy (false light), (3)
invasion of privacy (defamation), (4) invasion of privacy
(intrusion upon seclusion), (5) intentional infliction of
emotional distress, (6) negligent supervision, and (7)
negligent entrustment. Docs. 1, 32. Defendants now move to
dismiss the amended complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) for
failure to state a claim for relief. Docs. 44, 46.
Rule 12(b)(6), to survive a motion to dismiss, “a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The plaintiffs claim is facially
plausible if he pleads sufficient factual content to allow
the court “to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Id. The plausibility standard requires “more
than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully” but “is not akin to a
‘probability requirement.'” Id.
“Where a complaint pleads facts that are ...